Mother Teresa and Me - A Movie of Hope, Compassion, and Self-Discovery
In a heartwarming new film, two women grappling with self-doubt ultimately find the strength to overcome personal struggles in the pursuit of their vocations. "Mother Teresa and Me" weaves together the stories of Kavita, a young woman facing an unexpected pregnancy, and the iconic Mother Teresa of Calcutta, offering a unique narrative of resilience and inspiration.
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The film unfolds as Kavita, torn between the decision to undergo an abortion or not, returns to her Indian hometown. There, her elderly nanny shares the inspiring account of Mother Teresa's early days working in the streets of Calcutta. Mother Teresa, despite her own doubts after losing the ability to hear the voice of Jesus, becomes a beacon of hope for Kavita.
Set to premiere in New York on September 5, coinciding with the International Day of Charity, established by the United Nations in memory of St. Teresa of Calcutta, "Mother Teresa and Me" will later hit 800 theaters across the United States on October 5.
Thierry Cagianut, the film's executive producer, spoke with CNA about the movie's intentions and what he hopes viewers will take away from it.
"'Mother Teresa and Me' aims to inspire people worldwide to follow in the footsteps of Mother Teresa and contribute to a better world through small acts of kindness," he explained.
The filmmakers embarked on the challenging task of portraying the period in Mother Teresa's life when she grappled with darkness and a spiritual crisis similar to saints like John of the Cross and Teresa of Ăvila. By showcasing this vulnerable side of the beloved saint, they sought to make her more relatable.
Cagianut shared, "When you see the struggle she was in and how she persevered, then suddenly she becomes much more human, because she's also a woman with a lot of suffering, and that makes her relatable."
To achieve this, they introduced the character of Kavita, believing that discovering Mother Teresa through the eyes of a young, modern-day mother would make her story more accessible and engaging.
Kavita's life is marked by not only an unplanned pregnancy but also abandonment by the baby's father and parental pressure to conform to Indian traditions regarding marriage. As the film unfolds, Mother Teresa's influence transforms Kavita's life, leaving an indelible mark.
Cagianut hopes that the audience will undergo a similar transformation, stating, "We hope that people seeing the movie might get affected by Mother Teresa and discover that they should also do little acts of kindness and be more compassionate, have more open eyes, and be less about themselves."
He described Mother Teresa as an exceptionally strong character who can inspire and provide courage in everyday life.
As the project took shape, the filmmakers decided that the film should be made "in the spirit of Mother Teresa," with all proceeds directed towards helping the impoverished. Hence, the Zariya Foundation, meaning "source" in Urdu, was established to carry out this noble mission.
The Zariya Foundation's mission is to alleviate the suffering of the poor, abandoned, sick, and dying, and to improve standards of health and education for youth worldwide. Founded by Jacqueline Fritschi-Cornaz, the actress portraying Mother Teresa in the film, and her husband, Richard, the foundation embodies the film's ethos.
Remarkably, the film was entirely financed by donations, ensuring that all proceeds could be channeled directly to those in need, rather than repaying production costs with ticket sales revenue.
Cagianut emphasized the significance of the Zariya Foundation's name, highlighting that Mother Teresa herself was a source of boundless love and compassion. He envisioned the film as a wellspring that would remain perpetually brimming, enabling poverty alleviation through the simple act of watching.
Ultimately, Cagianut hopes "Mother Teresa and Me" will reach individuals like Kavita, moving them to action. The film's message is clear: one need not establish a foundation or contribute large sums of money; often, small gestures of kindness, time, and attention can pave the way for a better world.
In a world marked by uncertainty and challenges, "Mother Teresa and Me" serves as a poignant reminder that the power of compassion and selflessness can illuminate even the darkest of paths, guiding us toward a brighter future.
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